A reductionist approach to the analysis

Sven Erik Jorgensenan ecologiststates both theoretical and practical arguments for a holistic method in certain topics of science, especially ecology. Allied disciplines in medicine such as nursing, which have traditionally taken a more holistic approach to the patient, are also in danger of becoming reductionist.

That developmental genetics uncovers various differences between individuals that are due to differences in gene expression does not entail that genes are the only factors relevant in ontogeny.

He refers to this as the "fallacy of the misplaced concreteness". This includes features internal to an organism and some parts of its environment. Another significant challenge to reductionism stems from the fact that higher level biological structures and processes can be and typically are realized by different kinds of molecular processes, so that many molecular kinds can correspond to one higher level kind Section 4.

These claims are difficult to substantiate even though there are obvious associations between these topics for instance, most would agree that psychology can affect and inform economics. This latter tenet is sometimes called token-token reduction, in contrast to the stronger tenet that each type of biological process is identical to a type of physico-chemical process.

The limitation of reductionism was explained as follows. German philosophers introduced the concept of the " noumenal " realm that is not governed by the deterministic laws of " phenomenal " nature, where every event is completely determined by chains of causality.

Such an approach might usefully explain the success of drug therapies in treating the disorder; why people with depression think differently about themselves and the world; and why depression occurs more frequently in particular populations.

Finally, ontological reductionism is the belief that reality is composed of a minimum number of kinds of entities or substances. However, the generally accepted universality and objectivity of EBM comes at a cost—clinical problems must be defined in heavily simplified terms to enable randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses.

Two basic categories can be distinguished: Examples of Reductionism in Psychology Behaviorism assumes that all behavior can be reduced to simple building blocks of S-R stimulus- response and that complex behavior is a series of S-R chains. Genetics, and neurochemical imbalances are frequently highlighted, as being the main cause of these disorders.

An in vitro study of microbial resistance to a stress condition could be enhanced by experiments to determine whether the mechanism applies to interactions with host cells in which the particular stress occurs.

Reductionism in Biology

The cognitive approach uses the principle of machine reductionism. So for example, we might better understand a mental disorder such as depression by bringing together explanations from physiological, cognitive and sociocultural levels.

When the screen suggested that viral replication was dependent on the cell cycle regulator p27, the investigators moved to a reductionistic approach and were able to demonstrate reduced influenza virus replication in a pdeficient mouse in vivo.

Between these extremes there are behavioral, cognitive and social explanations. Ontological reductionism[ edit ] Ontological reductionism is the belief that reality is composed of a minimum number of kinds of entities or substances. This approach inevitably must reduce a complex behavior to a simple set of variables that offer the possibility of identifying a cause and an effect i.

The hierarchical approach is readily appearant in artwork from the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. Methodological reductionism would thus include the claim that the atomic explanation of a substance's boiling point is preferable to the chemical explanation, and that an explanation based on even smaller particles quarks and leptonsperhaps would be even better.

However, this is an abstract rather than a spatial hierarchy; the assumption that A and a map to Aa at the next higher level does not require Aa to be a physical entity that has A and a as its spatial parts.

Signal may be swamped by noise. Token ontological reductionism is the idea that every item that exists is a sum item. His viewpoint is that science can only progress by outlining what questions are unanswerable and by using models that do not attempt to explain everything in terms of smaller hierarchical levels of organization, but instead model them on the scale of the system itself, taking into account some but not all factors from levels both higher and lower in the hierarchy.

It begs the question against those who maintain that some explanations of development must invoke higher level features to assert that the organismal context can always be described molecularly.

Heraclitus of Ephesus declared that "this world-order [the same of all] did none of gods or men make, but it always was and is and shall be: For example, lightning would not be reducible to the electrical activity of air molecules if the reduction explained why lightning is deadly, but not why it always seeks the highest point to strike.

These topics also appeared in the pages of Philosophy of Science e. Furthermore, this framing has tended to create a false dichotomy between two extreme positions: Processes, elements, problems, etc.

This underscores the relationship between the inherent complexity of a system under study and the limits of methodological reductionism. Again, a cautionary note must be flagged. However, some would argue that the reductionist view lacks validity.

Functional genomics and proteomics as a foundation for systems biology. Richard Jones divides ontological reductionism into two: For example, a biochemical study of protein-protein interactions should obtain evidence that such interactions and their consequences occur in an intact cell.


Reductionism is the belief that human behavior can be explained by breaking it down into smaller component parts. Reductionist definition, the theory that every complex phenomenon, especially in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.

See more. Biological learners can be studied in a reductionist way as they solve BCI-like control problems, and machine learning algorithms can be developed and tested in closed loop with the subjects before being translated to full BCIs.

In philosophy of science, the term reductionism is used in a general sense to indicate the view that complex explanations can or should be reduced to simpler ones—for example, that biological phenomena can be explained by their chemical constituents, which in.

Theory reductionism: the suggestion that a newer theory does not replace or absorb an older one, but reduces it to more basic terms. Theory reduction itself is divisible into three parts: translation, derivation and explanation. Reductionism can be applied to any phenomenon, including objects, explanations, theories, and meanings.

Jan 20,  · Reductionism can feel like a really hard concept to teach well. Initially students seem to grasp the idea that some approaches are limited by the focus of the explanation of human behaviour.


The term reductionism then becomes a popular stick with which to beat the numerous theories and explanations in A Level Psychology. Reductionism and its heuristics: Making methodological reductionism honest have ignored this fact in our analysis of reductionistic activities.

Or perhaps we have broader paradigm for how to approach philosophical problems. 1 The failure of a unitary structuralist account of reduction.

A reductionist approach to the analysis
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Reductionism - SAGE Research Methods